Kitchen Remodel – Before and After

IMG_9254 (882x1024)We’re in!! The painters were done with the bulk of their work last Friday night and we were given the green light to move in. My husband and I stayed up til the wee hours, assembling our kitchen table and chairs, dusting and doing little things like putting felt on the bottoms of furniture legs. And then we poured ourselves a glass of Cabernet and took it all in.

There are a few outstanding issues (paint drips, a wonky faucet, motion sensor lights not working, waiting on new sofa and leather side chairs delivery, etc.), but otherwise we are D.O.N.E.

Let’s take a look at some before and after shots….

WallIMG_9255 (1024x768)The marble tile around the fireplace was taken down. The old fireplace was covered up and a new gas fireplace was installed, with built-ins flanking the sides (the closed cabinet on the left hides the flue).

house.kitchen3 (1024x681)IMG_9239 (882x1024)

house.family2IMG_9256 (1024x972)The wall between the  family room and kitchen was taken out and the light fixtures were replaced. New hardwood flooring was put down throughout both rooms and stained. New drywall, baseboards and molding. Sliding doors were sanded and painted.

MicrowaveIMG_9258 (768x1024)All appliances were replaced. We kept the location of the fridge (but changed it to a french door style for easier use), but moved the range and oven location. We installed a small microwave on the back cabinet area to keep it out of the way. We removed the swinging door that separated the kitchen from the dining room. (1024x681)IMG_9252 (1024x976)Peninsula with induction range was removed and an island was put in lengthwise. New everything. Cabinets, appliances, backsplash, molding, baseboard, lighting and paint. Kitchen window was moved eight inches to the right in order to maximize the corner space. Shoe molding was stained to match the floors and installed around the perimeter of the room and the island.

I’ll post more photos once all our furniture comes in and some art goes on the walls. Thanks for following our remodel! Although, now what am I going to write about!? (I’ll find something, don’t you worry).

Kitchen Demo – Day Five

DayFive2 (600x800)On Day Five, the fireplace was framed out. Another snafu. Behind the marbled tile and brick, they found cinder block. Fine. However, the cinder block contains the fireplace in the living room (on the other side of the wall). Taking out the bottom rows would mean screwing up the whole wall, which we didn’t want to mess with. This means we’re losing about five inches of width in our already narrow family room. Super bummer.

DayFive (772x800)They also started the process of relocating the kitchen window. By relocating I mean moving over to the right about eight inches. Quite a big deal to gain that small of a space, but what that will do is give me more room between the sink and stove/range, and also give me a nice corner cabinet, so it was worth it.

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Kitchen window from the outside.

Meanwhile on Day Five….

I took a last-minute to San Francisco and Napa (thanks in part to my amazing husband, who shuffled his schedule around to be on kid duty). I spent Day Five (and Days Six and Seven), eating delicious food, going for walks along trails and beaches, looking at art, tasting wine and spending time with friends. It was great to get away from the noise and the chaos of the remodel.

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Cypress trees along the Land’s End trail and of course, the Golden Gate.

Bridge.LandsEndI ate a solo lunch at my favorite Asian restaurant, Out the Door. (THIS is how you do Asian, Grosse Pointe! Are you listening?). Cellophane noodles sauteed in sesame oil with garlic, scallions, Dungeness crab and cilantro. And a side of sriracha.

OutTheDoor.Oct14 (678x800) OutTheDoorMenuI love Robert Motherwell, and I got to see two of his paintings on this trip. I’d seen them both before, but it was fun to view them one right after the other. One was at Hess Collection winery in Napa and the other at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park.

Hess.MotherwellI was worried that being back in San Francisco was going to make me come completely undone. That maybe as I drove into the city, sadness and longing would overcome me and leave me feeling empty, lonely. But it never happened. I loved seeing the Bridge again and the ocean and the haunting foggy beauty that is Northern California and I will always miss that. But I think I’m where I’m supposed to be. On the descent into Detroit, I even caught myself thinking…”it’s good to be home.”

Twelve Things I’ve Learned So Far (About Grosse Pointe)

I’ve been living in Grosse Pointe for a little over two weeks now. Here are twelve things I’ve learned so far…

1.  The Starbucks in the Village makes a better dry cappuccino than any San Francisco branch. (milk foams better here, too. humidity levels?)

2.  Every second car is an SUV or truck. Every 20th car is a cop car. Every 50th car is foreign.

3.  An unexpected snowstorm in April is magical, revitalizing and cathartic.

snow in april

4.  Detroit-style pizza is going to be the death of me. (If I can’t fit into my swimsuit this summer, I blame you, Buddy’s!)

5.  I can make a perfect grilled cheese on an electric stove. Sushi rice, not so much. Pork cutlets, a struggle. Stove = 2, Me = 1.

stove.grilledcheese6.  Nope, that’s not a cute cottage, that’s a garage.

garage7.  Fire hydrants are red.


8.  Squirrels are creepy.

9.  Japanese beetles are not ladybugs (and they are all over the apartment. and also creepy).

10.  A quarter will get you anywhere from 20 minutes, to and hour and 15 minutes, at a meter (and look at them!).

meters11. Detroit is beautiful.

detroit212.  An after-dinner family walk makes everything better.


Moving Day


Friday was moving day. A big, bright orange van with the words, “San Francisco Bay Area” pulled up in front of the apartment a little after 8:30 in the morning. It took them all day to unload (I think they left at 5:30pm-ish).

My husband said the movers (the same crew moved us out of our SF place) kept commenting on how heavy the boxes were. “In my 35 years on the job, never have I…” and so forth. I did most of the packing. Whoops. But absolutely nothing broke. Except when I dropped part of the espresso machine as I was taking it out of the box. Yeah, well.

The first time I walked through the apartment, I was underwhelmed. No closet in the second bedroom (unless you call a 6-inch deep x 4-foot wide space a closet) and a somewhat similar “closet” in the “master” bedroom. The kitchen was tinier than I thought (and most of the counter space was taken up by a behemoth microwave from the ’80s). And there were dead flies all over the attic (which made the baby cry and want to go home).


Looking at the apartment from the backyard. Second floor.

After my husband arrived (five days after I did), he and Sam the Labrador slept at the apartment, while the girls and I continued to stay with his mom (so much easier to be in a furnished home with a stocked fridge, especially with little ones).

The girls and I still haven’t moved in officially. The fridge and the washing machine are both on the fritz (to be fixed tomorrow). Not to mention the boxes everywhere. But I’m already growing fond of the place. I managed to fit all my cooking stuff (meaning the stuff I didn’t put in storage), save a couple bulky items (slow cooker, mixer), into the tiny kitchen. We figured out solutions for the clothes situation and the attic is a super play area for the girls (and it has air conditioning!).


Me and Sam in the backyard on moving day.

And the backyard. Oh my gosh. Having the girls be able to go downstairs on their own (carpeted, not scary stairwell inside of the house) is a million times better than our situation in San Francisco. And I can see them from the kitchen window. Dream come true.

A lot of our things we allocated for the apartment didn’t fit into the small space. And I kind of love that.  I loved putting books, artwork, clothes, dishes, back into boxes and labeling them “storage.” I loved the process of “no, we don’t need that.” I feel clean. And I feel like, yes, we can move from a 1700-square foot home to an 800-square foot apartment and live to tell about it. Very excited to move in (tomorrow?) and really get this adventure started.



Michigan: The First Few Days


Photo credit: the Husband, who drove 2405 miles across the country with Sam the Labrador. They made it in just 2 1/2 days (because he is amazing!)

The first few days in Grosse Pointe have been very surreal. I’m more exhausted than I’ve been since the girls were babies (both terrible sleepers) and I’m emotionally…..distressed? stunned? drained? I can’t even find the right word. Perhaps emotionally confused.

I knew once I got here, that my body would shut down somewhat from all the packing and adrenaline surges that got me through the San Francisco moving process, but I didn’t realize just how tired I would be. Every day (no matter how much coffee I drink), I’ve fallen asleep at some point – on a chair (while talking to someone), in a car (while kids were being loud) and I’m not the kind of person who can sleep anywhere (quite the opposite).

Since I haven’t been able to sort out my emotions, it’s also been hard for me to write, which is why this entry comes five days after our touchdown in Michigan. I can’t seem to organize my thoughts properly; everything is jumbled.


Lake Shore Drive (also spelled Lakeshore)

But I press on. I’ve gotten out for a couple runs, which always does wonders for my disposition. I’ve found a perfect 3-mile loop, which includes a few blocks on Lake Shore Drive, which borders the calm and beautiful Lake Saint Clair.

The day we arrived, it was cold and raining. As we pulled into town, there was still evidence of the brutal winter that so many experienced this year. Clumps of snow on the ground, ice in the lake, bare trees and bushes, and dry leaves everywhere.

However. All this…cold weather hanging-on stuff means that I haven’t missed a drop of Spring (thank you, Jesus). My heart needs the full season. New beginnings and such.


Moran Road, Grosse Pointe Farms.

Yesterday, the girls and I were the only ones at the playground (save for the friends who took us there – friends of my husband’s who are my only friends here) , mostly because it was about 40 degrees out – yikes. But today…today it was sunny and blue skies. The girls played outside while I fixed dinner and kept an eye on them through the kitchen window (we’re at my mother-in-law’s place ’til the moving truck comes). And after dinner, they bundled up and went back out again. Laughing, exploring, not wanting to come back inside. Although this was just a minor portion of my day (there were time outs, tantrums, breaking up of fights, the usual), this is why I came here. And I hope it’s a sign of what’s to come.

The forecast for the weeks ahead show some cold (super cold!) and wet days. But they are dotted between days of sunshine and clear skies. I do believe that Spring has found its way to Grosse Pointe, and I welcome it with arms wide open.